Where do you do your writing?
When I’m at home I almost always do my writing in my office. I have been known, however, so sit in the shade in our private backyard when I’m longing for some fresh air or feeling sorry for myself for missing out on some lovely, warm weather. I’m a very ‘outdoorsy’ person and would really rather be outside than inside. Since we travel in our motorhome a lot, sometimes for four or five months during the winter, I have had to learn to be flexible, though. I’ll either park myself at the kitchen table or sit outside under the canopy. These spots have more distractions than my office but I do the best I can.
What does your writing space look like?
My office is my personal haven. There are bookshelves (of course!) lined with everything from favorite titles to cookbooks, travel guides and coffee-table books. I’ve surrounded myself with mementos from my life – family photos, soapstone and musk-ox horn carvings from Canada’s Arctic, seashells from Australia and smooth, pretty beach rocks from Mexico. My office walls are adorned with caribou hair tuftings from the north and photos of aircraft taken in northern Canada. All of these things bring back fond memories, and looking at them seems to clear my mind and sharpen my focus.
On my desk is my laptop and a printer, a desk lamp, a phone, a cup full of pens and pencils, lots of scrap paper (some with illegible notes and scribbles that I’m afraid to throw away because one day I might decipher what they say), and a 3-ring binder where I keep my notes and research for the book I’m currently working on.
I’ve got a large piece of plain newsprint tacked to the wall above my desk (I call it my board) where I jot down my “reminders” . . . things that always need to stay front and centre in my mind while I’m writing. There are permanent reminders such as ‘SHOW 80%, TELL 20%’, Omit Needless Words! Appeal to Senses! Watch for ‘ly’ Words! As my novel progresses I’ll add notes about characters and plot – points I need to continually focus on throughout the book. When I’m done writing and the book is published my board comes down and a clean piece of newsprint goes up. Just in case I want to write another book!
When is your best time to write?
Morning is always my most productive time to write. I’m fresh and alert, and events of the day haven’t begun to distract me. That’s not to say that I haven’t burned the midnight oil. When I was working on a deadline to complete my second novel, I hit my desk again after dinner every night for two weeks and regularly worked until after midnight or 1 am.
Why do you think these work for you?
I need to practice self-disciple when it comes to writing. I’m by nature a wanderer. I can get easily distracted and end up doing several things at once (and getting little accomplished). When I’ve got a writing project I need to create a fixed schedule. Depending on my deadline, I’ll write on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 am to noon or 1 pm. If my deadline is tight, I’ll write mornings on Monday to Friday, but I always like to keep the weekends open to spend time with my family and catch up on things I need/like to do.
When I’m on a writing schedule, I advise my husband and closest family/friends that I’m unavailable during these certain hours. Barring emergencies (there should be blood in evidence to qualify as an emergency!) nobody should enter my office or disturb me. The only living thing allowed in my office is my dog, Chica, who sometimes comes in and lays next to me for a while, until she realized I have no treats for her. I won’t answer the house phone, and I leave my cell phone in the kitchen. If I absolutely have to, I’ll switch a writing day (ie swap a Wednesday for a Thursday) because, let’s face it, the rest of the world doesn’t revolve around my rules OR my writing!